Japan is as I left it, like Orkney, only the people are older. It brings to life how time passes differently for people. So much has happened but nothing much has changed in my life. In my Ogiichan’s life (that’s Japanese for Grandfather) not much has happened but a lot has changed, in his person mainly, a loss of mobility and the onset of dementia. I knew from when I greeted him in the house I was born in that he’d lost a spark. No, not lost it, the spark I mean, it was still there but hidden behind a grey veil in his eyes. It reminded me of dogs sleeping in their old age, when you go to stroke them and wake them up gently they turn their snouts towards you with a viscously slow sense of recognition of what’s happening or who you are. Or where they are. I think the old when they lapse in to these states of “not being with it” are often drifting on a another “playing field” of the consciousness. Sometimes my Granny in Orkney would hear something when not paying attention and say something completely disconnected from the present situation. Once she said out of the blue ‘What about the sheep?’ and then someone replied, ‘What sheep?’, whence she replied, ‘The ones at Hoxa’. Old memories must be seeping through and time must be occurring at a different pace for these individuals. Recognising what’s real and not real, what’s just been said and what was said years ago, it’s difficult to distinguish now. I don’t think Ogiichan can understand that I am the same person he used to pick up and carry on his back, because look at me, I’m massive, that’s in comparison to little me. He remembers watching a kite soar when I was the size of a shoe; he laughed properly when the family spoke about when I was small and ran through and under people’s legs at the summer festival they hold in Japanese towns with big drums and goldfish stalls, and thought I'd got lost. These things that happened over twenty years ago stir memories more vivid than the ones made yesterday. So it must mean, one’s own youth affects the interpretation of a happening or scene in the everyday, probably because in youth one feels things with more zeal. With more ahead of you and less behind - things must leave stronger impressions.
Saturday, 28 December 2013
Airports are by far one of the worst places to have a hangover.
I couldn’t bare to bring the laptop out of the bag but I weighed it up with the predicaments of feeling sick and not keeping myself busy for the next half hour and keeping myself busy for the next half hour and not being physically sick.
If there’s one thing you don’t want when you’re dehydrated and not seeing straight is being assaulted by robots. So many damn robots in an international flight zone. They’ve got rid of check-in staff for those who want to cut time. No I don’t want to stand in an hour long queue full of angsty types so I have to approach one of those self check-in machines like at Tesco’s. It asks inane questions like did you pack your own bag, and yes I did, but if I hadn’t and I was trying to smuggle cocaine out of the country I wouldn’t admit it to a robot.
The lights are all bright and on in airports, like casinos you have no idea what time it is. You have to undress and redress and then take off your shoes and produce a document and it’s all a bit much for a hangover, which could be mistaken for one still being drunk.
Also I’d like to add, airport staff who are not wearing the hi-vis and are wearing different coloured tailored uniforms look like “normal” (that is virtually created) people in The Matrix. You know those types that Mr. Anderson can morph himself in to, the dispensable human beings you see in film who aren’t Neo or Trinity or whoever have names. Yeah, well flight attendants with their overall immaculate looks and purposeful walks could easily turn in to an Agent.
Thursday, 26 December 2013
Christmas Day. Family are unwrapping presents by the fireside. Grancha plays with a bucks fizz swilling it by the stem from his usual armchair, Granny is on the sofa with hands folded on knees, Dad is sat on the floor waiting patiently, and Puss looks inconspicuously about the room from her perch on the windowsill. Outside are gale-force winds.
Dad gets up and hands a parcel to Granny
Dad: (Reading aloud) “To Granny love from Rimi”
Granny: Oh my
Puss: Are you ready for this?
Granny: I wonder what it could be
Rimi: Don’t get too excited
Granny: Oh and so beautifully wrapped. You're good at wrapping aren’t you?
Puss: Hear that?
Rimi: Sort of
Granny: (Excitement) Oh! Darling! I love it
Granny: Yes! I love torches
Granny: Did you know that? I love torches
Rimi: No I didn’t
Granny: I love how they shine
Rimi: I just thought it would be nice to keep it in your handbag
Granny: Grancha look at that a new torch
Grancha: Ooh yes
Granny turns the torch on and off and on and off again to prove a point
Grancha: And it’s one of those new torches
Granny: Yes very bright
Dad: LEDs. Do you know what they stand for?
Rimi: Light emitting diodes
Dad: Quite right. Whose turn is it next to get a present?
Granny: Mine. Oh I am pleased with that torch, thank you my darling
Rimi: No, really it’s not… alright I’m glad you liked it
Granny stands and hands Grancha a parcel
Granny: (Reading aloud) “To Dad with love”. I think it's from our son
Dad: (Beaming) I spent a long time looking online for this so I hope you like it
Grancha: I’m sure I will, sure I will
Puss: Careful the old man’s about to spill his drink
Rimi: Let me take your glass
Grancha: Noo, I can manage. I’ll place it up here out the way
A length of time elapses whilst Grancha works to open his present. Once open more time elapses before any recognition is passed on the present in hand. Everyone sits and waits and looks on, Puss meanwhile looks appalled
Grancha: A block of wood
Dad: No, look more carefully
Grancha: I am looking. It’s a block of wood. Thank you very kind
Dad: (Disgruntled) It’s not just a block of wood, it has a function
Granny: Is it a firelighter?
Dad: No. It’s a book stop
Grancha: Ah. Thank you nonetheless it’s the thought that counts
Dad: It has your initials on it
Grancha: Does it?
Dad: Right here: ‘CGBS’
Grancha: What’s the ‘B’ stand for?
Dad: Benjamin, one of your middle names
Grancha: I don’t think that’s one of my middle names
Granny: Neither do I
Dad: It sure to hell is
Rimi: I think Grancha might know his own name here
Dad: Fine fine wrong again
Grancha: I don't have a middle name!
Granny: Yes you do darling
Grancha: No I don’t
Dad: Yes you do dad
Granny: It’s Granville
Grancha: Yes it is. Quite right I do have a middle name. Ach bugger! (Grancha spills his drink)
Puss: Told you that would happen
Rimi: I’ll get it
Puss jumps off the window sill and Rimi follows her out of the living room to get a dishcloth
Tuesday, 24 December 2013
Rimi is wrapping her presents sat cross-legged infront of the roaring fire after a Christmas Eve meal. The members of the family are all going about their own business, stuffing dead turkeys and what not so no one pays any attention to her. Thankfully. She feels like with each present she wraps the closer she goes to insane. Puss her lifelong imaginary friend and cat sits upright purring beside her.
Puss: And what’s that?
Rimi: A torch
Puss: Who’s that for?
Puss: What else did you get her?
Rimi: A bowl
Silence as she wraps and pulls off strips of sticky tape
Puss: Is that all?
Puss: Just a torch and a bowl for Granny?
Rimi: Yes alright
Puss: She’s not an evacuee Rimi, nor is she a prisoner of war, why didn’t you get her anything pretty?
Rimi: Because I’m crap at this
Puss: What did your nice male-friend say? ‘It’s nice to give’. Why aren’t you like him?
Rimi: I do like giving just not when I’m forced to
Puss: Hence the torch and the bowl
Rimi: Yes. Are you going to just sit there licking yourself or can you help me with the wrapping
Puss: I’m afraid the cat cannot assist the human in worldly things, only metaphysically
Rimi: Right help you are
Silence as the cat licks her paw and cleans her face with it
Puss: How are you getting along with your father?
Rimi: Not great not badly, so middling
Puss: Have you got him anything in there? (nods at the plastic bag of bits and bobs)
Puss: Really? You’re joking
Rimi: No. Yes he likes peanuts, or assorted nuts or whatever they are
Puss: You are a terrible gift buyer
Rimi: (Mumbles as she rips off the tape with her teeth) I’d like to see you do better with your claws and cat-face
Saturday, 21 December 2013
A dinner table scene.
Rimi: The curry’s good
Grancha: Can’t fault it
Dad: Thank you
Rimi: I might get a red pepper
Dad: The dish didn’t suit red peppers so I didn’t put one in, but there’s a whole yellow pepper in it
Rimi: I just meant for a side. I’d like to get a red pepper on the go
Granny: Ooh, yes that might be a good idea
Dad: But the dish didn’t suit red peppers so I didn’t put one in. If it was a tomato-based curry I would have included it
Rimi: I just want it as a side not criticising your meal
Dad: Look I I I don’t want to get in to an argument about it
Rimi: Me neither
She fumbles in the fridge
Dad: The peppers are in the sun porch
Rimi: Oh, do you keep all the vegetables in the sun porch?
Dad: The sun porch is a perfectly good place to keep the vegetables in the winter it’s cold enough in there
Granny: Would you like me to go and get you a pepper?
Rimi: No don’t worry
Grancha: I don’t want any more peppers in my meal
Dad: Neither do I, neither do I
She sits back down at the table, let’s forget about the pepper
Granny: Oh, do you know what we forgot to buy today?
Rimi: Light bulbs
Granny: We forgot those but another thing, Smash, we didn’t get any Smash
Dad: That’s a shame I won’t be able to make the bangers and mash tomorrow
Rimi: Don’t we have any potatoes?
Granny: Yes we do have potatoes
Rimi: Well we can just make mash from the potatoes. I can’t cook but I’ll have a go
Dad: I’ll have you know that I make mash from potatoes when I can - when I have the time - but the Smash actually saves a lot of time and that’s why I use it
Rimi: I prefer mash when it’s made from the potatoes
Granny: So do I
Dad: I prefer the Smash
Rimi: I don’t
Dad: And why is that?
Rimi: It tastes grainy
Dad: That’s because you’ve never had Smash made properly
Grancha: It all tastes the same to me
Dad: I use the Smash and get it to exactly the right consistency
Rimi: Well we can just use potatoes tomorrow as we didn’t buy the Smash
Dad: That's fine that’s fine but I’m telling you if you had Smash made by me you wouldn't be able to tell the difference between your potato-mash and mine
Rimi: You know what, I’m going to go and get a pepper
She exits the room
Granny: (Quietly) I don’t like red peppers, they don’t sit well with me in my stomach
She re-enters the room carrying a red pepper. Cuts it up on the chopping board and places the slices in to a bowl that she places on the table
Rimi: I do like the curry though
Dad: I cook it almost every week
Rimi: That’s nice. Does anyone want some peppers?
Grancha: No thanks
Granny: Not for me
Dad: I’d like to point out that because this a korma I didn’t put any red peppers in to the meal because it would conflict with the taste, that’s why I used a whole yellow pepper, but next time I’ll put more in now that I know you like them so much
Granny: No one’s asking you to do that darling
Rimi: I just like vegetables. I like to east them raw. So you don’t have to cook them or change your recipe for me
Granny: She likes to eat them raw
Dad: Also for the record there is no taste difference between peppers of this kind so I don’t see why you’ve chosen to bring a red pepper to the table when the korma contains peppers in it already
Rimi: It was dark in the sun porch and I grabbed any pepper. I didn’t see it was red until I brought it back in here. But point made the curry doesn’t suit red peppers we’re all agreed
Granny: That’s right
Short pause of realisation
Rimi: Hang on, if all the peppers taste the same then why were you going on about putting a yellow pepper in but not a red one because it would, what did you say, conflict with the base-taste of the meal?
Trying to avert the argument
Granny: I think there is a difference between the red and yellow peppers because the red ones don’t sit well with me
Rimi: And there’s a huge difference in taste between the green ones and these, don’t you think?
Granny: Yes yes
Dad: Not of this species of pepper they all taste the same
Rimi: I disagree –
Dad: (Resolutely) If I blindfolded you and gave you slices of the three different coloured peppers you would not be able to tell the difference
Rimi: I bet I could. Do you want to do an experiment? I can go and get the other peppers from the sun porch and we can cut a slice out of each one and then I’ll close my eyes and I bet you that I could tell you which one was green based on the taste
Dad: No you couldn’t. And No we won’t do that experiment
Rimi: Why not?
Dad: Because I want to save those other peppers for a later meal and if we cut into them they’ll go off
Rimi: You just don't want to lose the argument
Dad: No! Fresh vegetables do not keep if silly people cut bits out of them to prove a silly point
Rimi: Or if silly people don’t want to be proven wrong
Dad: Dammit. We are not cutting in to the other peppers!
Grancha: Don't raise your voice at the dinner table
Rimi: I’m loving the meal. And these red peppers, delicious
Dad: Good good I’m glad you’re enjoying the meal
Granny: Does anybody want any ice cream?
Friday, 20 December 2013
A sitting room scene. Friday afternoon. There is a new addition to the family, Rimi, the longlost grand/daughter to the rest of the family. Dad sits on the pouffe we use now as a stool, Granny is on the sofa with hands folded on knees, and Grancha fumbles falling forwards whilst wiping his glasses perched on the armchair. Outside are gale-force winds.
In hushed tones the two of them talk
Dad: Did I tell you that I got another “one of those” before she came?
Granny: What? Speak up darling.
Dad: (Pointing at his finger) I got another “one of those” from the (nods to the wall)
Granny: Another one of what? What’s wrong with the wall?
Having had enough of the loud disruptive whispering across the sitting room
Rimi: What are you talking about?
Dad: We shouldn’t hide things from her; she’s old enough now to understand what happens when adults have accidents.
Rimi: If you say so
Dad: She’s been at school in the last 30 years so she’ll know about these things, chemistry lessons and experiments isn’t that right?
Rimi: (Blankly) Yes
Dad: I got a 5 Amp shock
Rimi: That’s nothing
Dad: It is! It could kill someone!
Dad: It’s not the same as voltage, a point 5 Amp could electrocute someone half to death
Rimi: Were you knocked unconscious?
Dad: No, but I was damned hurt. Look at my finger.
All three move closer in to inspect Dad’s finger. There is a little black mark on his forefinger. It looks like a small bat bite.
Rimi: Were you wearing rubber shoes?
Dad: Yes. Luckily so
Rimi: What were you doing?
Dad: It doesn’t matter. It wasn’t anyone’s fault
Granny: It’s nobody’s fault darling
Rimi: But what were you doing?
Dad: I was trying to fix something behind the back of the piano, and my finger touched something unsafe and it gave me an electric shock that was all.
Seemingly satisfied everyone goes back to their tasks. Grancha who had been cleaning his glasses throughout has now folded them away and put them on the windowsill. He now laboriously gets up from his armchair
Grancha: Who wants fish for supper?
Granny: Ooh yes, yummy yummy
Rimi: What did you touch? What were you doing behind the piano?
Dad: It doesn’t matter
Granny: Who wants fish for supper?
Grancha: I’ll get my coat on
Granny: Hang on hang on you don’t know what people want yet!
Rimi: Yes, but if there’s something unsafe behind there then we should know –
Dad: It was all black and grotty so you should be glad I got it out
Rimi: I’m not saying I’m not glad but what was it?
Grancha: What would people like?
Dad: I’d like the usual fish supper plus the battered sausage
Granny: What would you like Rimi? Fish and chips or battered sausage or something else altogether? No pressure to eat fish and chips just because we are darling.
Rimi: No I’d love to Granny, but I’ll just have a fish I’m sort of full still
Granny: Just the fish for Rimi, Grancha!
Grancha: Right then we’ll have the usual but with one extra fish
Granny: (Reconfirming) The usual supper plus the one extra fish
Rimi: Well, what was it?
Dad: It’s unpleasant so I’d rather not say
Rimi: Oh for god’s sake what was it – is it unsavoury?
Granny: Oh! Do you want something sweet?
Grancha: I’ll go put my coat on
Granny: Do you know what everyone wants?
Rimi: I’ll go with you Grancha there’s a hurricane out there. But Dad what was behind the piano?
Dad: I nearly got killed pulling it out
Rimi: But you didn’t so what was it?
Dad: (Resignedly) A plug socket that had had it’s bits cut off.
Dad: It was being used to block up a draught
Rimi: That was a bit stupid
Dad: Why do I feel like I’m the stupid one in this situation when I was just trying to help?
Rimi: I’m not saying you’re stupid. It’s the cut off plug that’s pretty stupid.
Dad: It could have killed me
Rimi: You could have died
Granny has now leant over the table to write some last minute Christmas cards. Grancha is slowly putting on his coat. She is carefully writing out a message when she remembers something.
Granny: Has Grancha gone?
Grancha: No. I’m still here!
Granny: Do you know what I want?
Grancha: Yes. The usual.
Dad: Don’t worry everyone, we’re having the usual plus one extra fish.
Grancha: That’s right
Granny: (Speaking to Rimi) Are you having just chips?
Dad: Don’t confuse Grancha! Don’t confuse Grancha! We need one extra fish.
Grancha: Is that four fish?
Granny: What’s Rimi having?
Rimi: I’m having a fish. Just having a fish.
Grancha: So two fish suppers with two extra fish
Dad: No, the usual with one extra fish!
Granny: Ooh hang on, I’m not concentrating on the card. How many fish in the usual?
Dad: There’s three fish in the usual, so we just want one extra fish
Granny: And what’s Rimi having – chips?
All in unison: No, fish!
Long silence. Rimi goes out of the sitting room to put on her coat
Granny: Oh dear, Grancha’s nearly fallen off the card
Grancha: Now where have I left my glasses…
Thursday, 19 December 2013
Notable points to pick up on:
The sign for the Starbucks has a short circuit so the large green looming thing reads
STA BUCK OFFEEIt reminds me of the Grinch and makes me think of stabbings. Saying that, it's all so nicely lit with a cascade of white glittering fairylights that the whole thing leaves me feeling confused and numb. It’s odd that when a sensation is confusing it might leave you feeling nothing at all. They say that’s what psychopaths feel when they witness something horrible which in all people, apart from the psychopath, would stir an untoward feeling of empathy i.e. the death of a child or a man under a train. I’m sure my feeling toward the Starbucks sign is incomparable to feelings held by any psychopath so I feel safe in my sanity.
The waitress is unusually pretty and looks like Diane Moore.
There is a man in an anorak with thick lens glasses hanging out, placing his full body weight on the banister of an indoor bridge. I’ve taken shelter in a shopping mall that possesses a gigantic Matalan, TK Maxx, M&S, Starbucks, JD Sports, you get the picture. He looks like a classic trainspotter and unfortunately his bearing, in this shopping mall on his own wearing what looks like a wet tracksuit, alludes to the image of the evil paedophile demon all the papers keep throwing up these days. He is probably just the embodiment of someone lonely – and it’s Christmas, pity.
One table is on an early date, maybe even a first, perhaps they met online and that’s why they chose this large yet inconspicuous location to meet for the first time. She smiles a lot and flattens down her nicely dyed blonde hair and you can tell he’s nervous because he keeps wiping his left palm on his left trouser leg. I hope it’s going well, and it does seem to be - with all that eye contact, bless.
Another table is on a stale date. I don’t know if they’re married but they’ve certainly given up trying, she talks to the chair and he nods at his cup.
My coffee has grown cold and the prospects do not look great. The Pentland Firth is choppy and the ferries are not getting in to their ports on time. I fear I may have a seasick ride to Orkney; an island the Vikings looted and then left fallow for the seaweed-eating goats to graze upon for millennia. Still, I can’t wait to see the family.
Monday, 16 December 2013
Sunday, 15 December 2013
What is this?
A Saturday night and a good friend Bo leads the merry folk to a pub, The Jolly Butchers, incase you were wondering and it’s the run up to Christmas.
To be hung on display.
It dawns on her with pint in hand and swift looks around the room that she had never been part of the meat-market, the free for all. Maybe it’s because it’s the run up to Christmas that there were more brash jumpers in the room being fashioned by boyish faced men with beards who looked straight past people and made you feel self-conscious.
Rumps look delicious.
His ego bristles as he scours the room to find new challengers, acquaintances and hot totty. A minute ago he’d ordered a hot toddy but the barman in faintly rolled-up sleeves said with a sneer,‘we don’t do that here mate’ and that was that, he got a real ale instead. Apart from the sensitivity he suffered about his height (he was shorter than the rest but only by a margin in some cases) he had the happy demeanour of an American, which bodes well for when talking to women. He was off chattering to flocks whilst in corners and tables others were left to brood.
A grim flash of the cleaver.
She caught sight of a reflection in the enormous strained mirrors hanging off the old-mauve walls. She caught sight of three men dotted around the room looking in her direction, at her with bared teeth and continual side-glances thinking she hadn’t noticed. She was in a white shirt with red lips on display and a shot of white pain fell her insides with each stare. Any pain was soon to dissipate as she lapsed back in to conversation, gulped down more beer, oh the haven of inane murmurings, to pretend not to have seen, not to have cared.
Chopping and the slicing and the gutting of the meal.
The two are next to each other by some chance push and shove of the people getting their drinks infront. She’s drunk and content to be surrounded by the squealers so long as she can carry on with her friends to the next pub and club, but he wants more of her smile and her hair in his life so turns and says, ‘can I get you a drink?’. She’s not going to refuse because he looks well put together with combed back hair like from the 1950s, and why not gorgeous, flaunt what god gave you. She tells him to come over to her flock and bring the pack along with him, the girls love a bit of attention, and he’s bitten off more than he can chew but what fun there is to be had in a meat-market.
Hang out the carcasses on the butcher's hook.Make sure t’clean the windows so the wives can get look.
Thursday, 12 December 2013
What an interesting guy this Aesop. A slave, reported to be ugly as hell, ends up freeing himself from his master, sleeping with his wife and then becoming a diplomat. What’s also interesting is his legendary status as storyteller and maverick solidified in 1 A.D. around the same time as the Bible, and isn’t that why some of his stories live on today as widely and commonly known as some of the Biblical ones? The one that I was thinking of (when I started fastidiously clicking onto hyperlinks on Wiki) was the Hare and the Tortoise. You know this fable is retold in Japan to children as often as I can remember. It’s nice and accessible because the protagonists are two fairly well-known and easy to visualise animals. The animals talk, so they are humanised but they still aren’t the same as us, which makes the tale all the more palatable.
Hare is bragging, being a bit of dick basically, showing off how fast he can run or hop or whatever. He’s in a pub probably on a Sunday lunchtime when everyone’s in with their family and dogs having a nice meal out. The Tortoise, an upstanding citizen of their village who always pays his taxes and puts out the recycling, can’t help but overhear Hare bragging at the bar. Tapping himself up to the eyeballs. Talking utter nonsense and drivel. The Tortoise after testing his patience gets up and goes to the far taller Hare now propping himself up on the bar, and says
‘Excuse me for interrupting but you and your chums are stirring up quite the racket, can you keep it down a bit.’
Hare spits and replies, ‘Petulent insolent nonsense. You’re the one that’s making a fool out of yourself!’
‘No sir, that is most clearly and definitely you’, Tortoise said looking down at Hare’s flies which were undone.
‘Oh sod you - you slow piece of shell’, uttered Hare in a slur, ‘curse you and all your slow type.’
The pub fell in to a hushed silence, for hadn’t Hare quite publicly admitted something Speedist? I can’t enforce to you enough how Hare was not a popular fellow; he was renowned for having unsavoury views, particularly when it came to judging other species and their inferiority to Leporidae.
‘Right I’ve had it with you Hare!’ Piped up Tortoise, ‘You and me outside now.’
The pubgoers flocked out on to the sandy gravel driveway and the pub landlord, Beetle, clambered over some disused barrels and crawled out before Hare and Tortoise.
‘Alright lads. I’m marking out a line here in the gravel. You and Hare note this is the starting line.’ The crowds cheered and the landlord continued, ‘Now the time is just coming up for 1PM. You two fellas warm yourselves up because this is going to be a race!’ The crowds roared and some beer was spilt.
Hare burped and sneered at Tortoise. The Tortoise remained calm.
Now Beetle orated, ‘The finishing line is that cow gate at the top of the hill before you reach the windmills. We’ll all be waiting for you up there, and I’ll assign lookouts along the way to make sure none of you ain’t cheating. Do you hear me boy?’ Beetle leaned in closer to Hare whose breath smelt of bad booze.
The crowds began to shuffle and stumble and make their way across the path and over some grass towards the hill. The distance was about 1 km. Anyone could have done it in under an hour but for Tortoise this job could take at least five. When the clock struck one and the church bell ding-donged Tortoise set off at his ungodly slow pace of 4m per minute (at a push). Hare completely unaware the clocks had struck one turned round from the starting line and trundled off to use the bathroom of the pub. Now that everyone had scattered all that was left was Tortoise several metres away from the line but not far away really.
Wednesday, 11 December 2013
Monday, 9 December 2013
When Eleanor leaves a stellarscopic hole will appear
and shine ablaze within my soul.
Those chancery occasions for opportune fun
will all be but lost to me.
And nothing big
And nothing small
Can begrudge me that this was a good thing.
Sunday, 8 December 2013
Yeah so I drink too much. I was not at all (neither do I ever knowingly) intending to drink that much. That much was excessive – and I blame it on the date concept, which gives me nerves. I should not have an overdraft on my card. I drink to loosen up you know. And in the same vain as any other drug, you take it to not feel yourself that much. To shut your own head up. Because my head does get in the way a lot, bloody often it clogs up my time with minor stresses and boring boring pointless points. I filled the bathtub up to the brim the other day with cold water by accident instead of hot, and I worried so much about the wasteage of water that I couldn’t pull the plug out of that bathtub for THREE WHOLE DAYS. That was how much my brain worried about the consequences of a minor action and even when I compare it to murder or bombings, my brain still convinces me it’s a big deal. And I like a drink but that’s beside the point. Why can’t I get to the point? OK. I don’t love you and I don’t think that I could ever love you. That’s my confession. But you know why I don’t think I could ever love you? Because my stupid voice in my head can come up with millions of reasons to persuade me not to, but when I’m actually in the reality of the situation, as in with you – I definitely could love you. So why does my “inside head voice” and my “outside world life” not match? That’s my question and I wondered if you could help me figure it out. It’s a work-in-progress show this, or a work-in-process because I’m trying to work something out which won’t become a show.
Here are some of my inside head reasons:
- I don’t like your coat. The collar annoys me. They’re flaps. So, when it’s done up you look like a Kremlin guard but when it’s not, it's just flapping and gapes. It shows too much of what you’re wearing underneath when it’s open and reminds me of 16th century ruffs that men used to wear which are pretty much ridiculous, like those cones dogs wear round their heads when they get sick. And the large opening isn’t practical; coats are meant to keep the heat in, and then if and when you do do it up you’re not audible because the flaps cover your mouth, so what’s the point?
- You’re positivity about the world. About getting things done and the good advice about making To Do lists. I hate that you’re well put together and clean because I wish I was – this is plain menace coming from jealousy and a feeling of inadequacy.
- You’re a “clean shirt”. And that’s a term I’ve taken from you when you’ve used the unapologetically crass phrase ‘a person’s brand’. When you ask me ‘What’s their brand?’ I also bristle with anger, but that in and of itself doesn’t deserve to get a full bullet-point. You’re above hobos and bohemians and below suits. You wear smart casual and order flat whites, and don’t seem to find the ambient house beats being played inside the café like Christmas jingles at supermarkets through the month of December off-putting. You're plain chipper doing what you do with no sense of irony, anxiety or delusion. How do you manage that? Are you really happy or ignorant? What is going on?
- The use and idea of the term lad. I hate lad culture. I wrote to you in an e-mail I’d be waiting for you at the date space probably with a book and a beer, and then you wrote in the reply: ‘book and a beer, educated lad’. You summed it up, that’s what I hate. Lad culture is based around being able to drink lots and not keeping it down, and you all have this ingrained radar for BANTER but what banter really means is an affectionate term for lame in-jokes about that thing that happened to Dave when you all went on that trip where everyone was wasted 24/7. Wow I cannot take those people seriously and I know you have that lad-dness in you. You saying LOL in a conversation and a referring to a person’s brand, it’s all there. And I don’t reproach you for it I am merely stating I could never love a lad.
What can be said, what can’t be said. When I first meet a person I think of all the things that can’t be said out loud first, for example if you meet a fat person you check in with yourself immediately to note I cannot talk about this person being fat. In fact all of my opinions seem to stem from this can't be said field and therefore I am a nasty person. They fall out of my mouth when I am least suspecting it and when I don’t want them to because what can be said and what can’t be said are reconciled together with the lubricant of drink; or heightened situations; or most noble out of the lot, when you’re trying to do the right thing. In my books I have long held the belief that doing the right thing is being honest, then you can be free. But the price of that freedom? Losing the patience of more kind sensitive souls, sounding like a dickhead the majority of the time someone asks you your opinion, being kicked in the teeth by someone who takes offence, and a lack of regard for repercussions. No regrets.
Wednesday, 4 December 2013
The feeling that I used to get when I woke up was one of dread. I remember convincing myself that I had things to do that day. There were tasks/chores/duties I had to get through and accomplishing them regardless of whether I wanted to or not was what gave me the confidence to get out of bed. The days where I had a television record to work on that night, where my job consisted of herding up the audience, corralling them to sit in one of the hundred plastic chairs to watch just another gameshow, yes those were the good days. Good not because it had anything to do with enjoyment (it didn’t) but because I could see the point. One hundred drooling audience - no, that’s not fair not all were drooling some only plain keen - would file up and bicker on the cold grey pavements, often wet from the unending drizzle of the Tuesday. I would walk down the long line, talking at and looking each person in the eye, I’d peel off a sticker from a soggy wad of paper sandwiched in the clipboard and say, ‘Enjoy the show’.
I had one of those stupid lanyards round my neck with the colourful show logo on and it felt like I’d been given a shit medal. But at least I could see the point. The people wanted to see their comedian perform on a big glitzy stage with lots of cameras hanging off the tracking on the studio ceilings, and when the applause roared as the opening credits theme tune played over the speakers and the star walked on, I could see the point. This stuff I was doing was making a TV show and the audience I was leading to their pens, sorry, seats really liked this TV show. Personally, if I had a television I’d watch Frozen Planet but maybe that sort of attitude is what led me to imagine the audience as baying birds, as penguins flapping their short stubby wings against their bodies to make claps.
Tuesday, 3 December 2013
God I am such a precious cunt. Nothing gets my goat as much as listening to someone who doesn’t know what they’re talking about but then everyone has to start somewhere. What I’m afraid of is a threat to my ego, and this usually comes about when someone who says they have no authority on a subject starts talking about the thing they’ve just admitted they know nothing about. It’s called an open discussion and there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s the way new ideas are born. What is my problem? I like to listen dumbly to someone spouting nonsense and then internalise it as a quiet anger then verbalise it as something crass like, ‘I think I know what you mean’ or ‘I hear where you’re coming from’. But I don’t follow that statement up with ‘… however I think you’re wrong because of this and this and that’, probably because I don’t have the self-belief in what I have to say either. So I am stuck between a rock and a hard place just mulling things internally that never get let out and then the person probably thinks I agree with them. Fuck them.
Take the example of a teacher telling the stand-up that a great place to start is from ANGER. Think of something that makes you angry and then go from there, because that will probably make the tale a funny one. So if I were to apply that to myself I would go from the “morning commute”. The morning commute I had to do day in and day out made me angry. So instantly we are set on a tube or train. Ok so that’s relevant and observational, good start. Why did it make me angry? Because my brain couldn’t fathom a good enough reason for why we had to suffer the commute, nor could it comprehend why everyone also blindly followed the routine of getting on a packed train just as I started to wake up. The first conscious sensation I had to have every day of the week was ‘sod this’. Why would you inflict that on yourself? We could start a little later, or stagger the commute time to ease overcrowding, rather than queue up for rammed train after train to get to a destination no one was particularly keen to get to. Did it feel good to get in on time? Nowhere near good enough to erase from the memory the hell of the commute. So, I guess that stuff made me angry. It’s not that funny, not in my eyes. Perhaps I’m not going far enough with it. Or maybe, I didn’t find the actual situation that anger-inducing. Or, it could be that the advice of the teacher to start from anger isn’t a great one unless you’re good a venting anger in a funny or ridiculous way.
I’m prone to finding the ridiculous funny. But these things jump out at you rather than stem from within, and maybe that’s why it’s harder to draw from. We were walking up the hill that leads from my front door to the train station and I heard this crackling sound - lots of crackling sounds actually that were like nothing familiar. ‘What’s that noise?’ and when we stood there stationary and listened to it for a while I pointed up at the tree and said ‘oh my god.’ There were a hundred green parakeets all in one place pecking at the fruit (?) of a tree and their hundred stupid beaks were making the noise. Green parakeets in London. All in one tree. And it’s fucking freezing out here and the lime green made them look like giant caterpillars and there was an inexplicable expression across our faces as we watched these little monsters eat their way through our deciduous foliage. If they’d flown over from somewhere warmer like France or the Caribbean why hadn’t they flapped back? It makes me anxious that birds that have evolved to be this bright in colour (and so should feel innately out of place in dreary England) would continue to stay here longer than the time required for a bird to realise they’d made a mistake. An error of judgement. ‘Oh, you know we have these internal magnetic compasses built in to our brain’, ‘Yeah the one we rely on to make the right migration path across huge distances - what about them?’ ‘Mine isn’t working.’ ‘Neither is mine’ ‘Not a thing’. ‘So where are we?’ ‘Not sure, who cares let’s find a tree to eat.’ And then I’d shout up at the tree and say something unhelpful like, ‘But it’s bloody freezing! Aren’t you cold?’ and they’d all nod violently and carry on pecking. I’d say one last warning like ‘You’ll die if you stay here too long’ and then one of the peckers will speak up and say, ‘So will everyone’.
My funny comes from paranoia or fear or anxiety, but hardly ever anger. The trite stuff comes from anger. The comedians who raise their voices and say ‘fuck’ a lot in their material to hone in a point - no darling that’s just a lazy way to keep our attention.
I say this yet the best piece of stand-up I’ve seen is based around anger, though one rooted in human injustice and it was hi-lar-ious. Totally funny. It was about slavery.